National Theatre Live’s 2010 broadcast of Hamlet returns to cinemas as part of the National Theatre’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
Olivier Award-winning Rory Kinnear plays Hamlet in this dynamic production of Shakespeare’s complex and profound play about the human condition, directed by Nicholas Hytner.
Hamlet at the National Theatre
Hamlet is the only play to have been staged during the tenure of each of the National Theatre’s five Directors so far.
Fifty years ago tonight, the National’s first Hamlet was Peter O’Toole, in the Company’s inaugural production at the Old Vic, opening on 22 October 1963. Laurence Olivier, the National’s first Director staged it; Michael Redgrave was Claudius, Rosemary Harris Ophelia, and Derek Jacobi Laertes. The Court Ladies and Soldiers included Lynn Redgrave and Michael Gambon.
In 1975, the NT’s second Director, Peter Hall, chose Hamlet as one of his first productions. His Hamlet was Albert Finney, who played the part first at the Old Vic, then at the Lyttelton for the opening of the new building on the South Bank in 1976, and later in the Olivier. Gertrude was Angela Lansbury.
When Richard Eyre succeeded Peter Hall as Director, he too chose to stage Hamlet in the Olivier in 1989 as part of his first season, with Daniel Day-Lewis in the name part and Judi Dench as Gertrude. The production also visited Elsinore, and, when Daniel Day-Lewis withdrew, the lead was taken by Jeremy Northam and then Ian Charleson, who gave a moving final performance weeks before his death from Aids-related illness.
Two Hamlets from overseas were hosted by the NT: Ion Caramitru with the Bulandra Theater from Romania in 1990; and Peter Stormare in Ingmar Bergman’s production from Sweden, which visited in 1987.
In the millennium year, 2000, with the National now under the Direction of Trevor Nunn, John Caird directed Hamlet with Simon Russell Beale in the title role, opening in the Lyttelton, visiting Elsinore and touring the UK and all over the world.
Most recently, the National’s current Director, Nicholas Hytner staged the production you will see tonight, which opened in the Olivier on 7 October 2010, and was revived in the Lyttelton the following year after touring and being shown as part of NT Live, bringing the play a wider audience than any of the previous NT productions.